Point View Art Association: Where Quality of Art Matters

05 2015 | Issue 5
Text/Ng Kin Ling, Allison Chan and Fong Son Wa

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While Hiu Kok Theatre Group is a home-grown theatre group, Point View Art Association (“Point View”), established since 2008, is considered an arts group that targets at the market outside Macao. Each year, the Association is invited to perform its productions overseas. While theatre is its key focus, the Association’s productions are often quite experimental, boasting the use of multimedia elements. Its well-received show, Playing Landscape, for example, merges ink painting, symbolism, forms with stage drama. Two years ago, the group was invited to perform in the Mindelact International Theatre Festival in Cape Verde, Africa. Three of its recent productions including Playing Landscape, the musical theatre Picnic in the Cemetery and micro-theatre Puzzle the Puzzle, were featured in last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the UK, commanding four weeks of performance runs and receiving rave reviews.


Best known for its unconventional artistic approach, Point View distinguishes itself from Macao’s traditional performance arts. Some see this as a refreshing take on theatre, while others consider it to appeal only to the taste of the minority. Erik Kuong, executive director of Point View, thought differently.


“I think developing our niche is different from popularity-seeking. In my view, it is not necessary to be crude. If the audience for performance arts were a minority, then we aim to attract the convergence of the minority.” Convinced that both visual arts and the theatre have never been a mainstream entertainment, Kuong considered it highly important for Macao’s performance arts to look further afield for expansion and development opportunities.


Most of Point View’s core members have trained overseas before their return to Macao to develop their artistic careers. Combining music, fashion, stage production and design talents, Point View has developed a niche in multimedia productions, and is focused on the sustained growth of its creative practice. Kuong believed that each performance is a living piece of art, and that it takes time for good art to evolve and develop. Macao, however, does not always offer such an environment to nurture the organic growth of artistic productions.


“Strangely enough, the performance scene in Macao meant that a drama production lasts for only two to three show runs. It is very different from other regions where the practitioners have a year’s time to develop and build up reputation for a production.” With this in mind, Point View aims for quality in their performances, preferring to focus on only one or two memorable productions each year.


Of course, not every performance group has such luxury of time. To secure government funding, arts groups are often assessed by the quantity rather than quality of their creative output. In other words, an arts group can amass more resources only if it comes up with new creative works. Noting this constraint on performance groups, Kuong pointed out that the quality of drama productions has not seen a proportionate increase despite the recent rise in government funding. This is mainly caused by the time constraint imposed on the actors and stage space, making it difficult to build up momentum for a show over time. At the end of the day, the quality of creative practice is compromised.


“If each theatre group were to stage just one or two productions each year, then they will have much more time to develop and improve the performances, and actors will have the opportunity and time to bring out their full potential.” For Point View, their production Playing Landscape, now in its seventh version, has won international acclaim, and is on tour to a different country each year.


Kuong added: “The theatre audience in Macao is limited. It is nearly impossible, let’s say, to draw an audience of 30,000 persons in Macao. However, if we were to explore further afield, we can aim at a 3,000-plus audience in Taipei, an audience of 5,000 people in Guangzhou, or to seek out places such as Beijing. This is what I meant by seeking the convergence of the minority.” He felt that the competition for an audience is not a competition among theatre groups, but a competition between stage drama and other entertainment programmes. “I often reflect on the question whether the theatre groups in Macao are offering enough choices to the audience. For example, if I were potentially interested in checking out a show, it is possible that I cannot find a date to go and watch it, since there are only two to three show runs for a local play. Faced with such constraints, it is difficult to cultivate new audience.”


Kuong believed that the government should not evaluate a production based on the audience figure of an individual performance. “The government must learn to analyse better the growth trends of audience, mapping out the demographics, and taking into account the typical growth rate of the theatre audience. This will help the government to form a more holistic and accurate assessment of the theatre groups and their creative output.”